One of Scotland’s most talented young table tennis players, Ethan Chapman, has voiced his support for Aberdeen Football Club’s plans to create a £50million football and community sports hub at Kingsford.
Ethan (17) from Westhill, who won his first Grand Prix this year and is hoping to play for Scotland, had to travel from the North-east to train in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
He believes the proposed facilities would have made a huge difference when he began practicing table tennis, while the new hub will provide huge opportunities for future sports-minded individuals living in Aberdeenshire.
Ethan said: “My passion for table tennis started as soon as I first played when I was 11 and a half.
“A year into practice, my weekends became jam-packed with travelling to Glasgow and Edinburgh to train as the facilities there are much better than anywhere in Aberdeen.
“My mum would have to drive me and sometimes my brothers had to come as well, so it would cost a lot in accommodation, trains or petrol money, plus the training fees. As I’ve improved, this has only increased as I had to go to Edinburgh twice a week after school to train with the Scotland Men’s Team.”
Soon to start college in Grantham, studying for a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in sports and fitness, Ethan’s day will be split into four hours of education and four hours of training in the evening using the on-campus facilities.
Speaking about the difference a high-quality sports centre would have made had they been on his doorstep in Westhill, Ethan said: “We’ve really don’t have suitable facilities locally so it would have been amazing, not only financially, but also to just have it there for whenever I wanted to train.
“It would have given me hours and hours of extra training and more money to put toward tournaments. It would have been completely different. I can’t even put it into words. It would be unbelievable for everyone, especially those who dream of being a professional sportsmen or women.
“When I spoke to my friends about the possibility of having a new stadium and sports facilities at Kingsford, they all said it should go ahead. Not one of them was against it because it would be great for so many reasons – not only for the economy but for sports in general.”
Ethan’s commitment to pursuing his passion for table tennis has inspired his younger brothers Kyle (16), Oliver (11) and Mackenzie (10), who also enjoy playing the sport.
Ethan said: “I would love to play for Scotland at a senior level, in the Commonwealth Games and World Championships. It’s going to be difficult but if I put in the effort, it’s definitely possible.
“I hope for my brothers that the plans go ahead so that they can train in first-class facilities without having to spend four or five hours travelling each day.”
If the plans are given the go-ahead, the first phase of development would see the construction of a dedicated community sports hub and professional training pitches with associated indoor facilities.
As well as providing a home for the award-winning AFC Community Trust (AFCCT), local community groups would also be able to access and benefit from usage of the facilities.
George Yule, executive vice-chairman of Aberdeen Football Club, said: “Local groups would be able to access the purpose-built modern facilities at Kingsford, as well as it providing a base for AFC Community Trust to significantly increase its reach across many communities. – Kingsford is not just about football.
“Our proposals aim to deliver a modern, convenient and accessible development for the greater good and benefit of all across the region. We welcome Ethan’s support and wish him well in his table tennis career in the future.”
Aberdeen Football Club’s plans for the 25-hectare site at Kingsford, near Westhill, would see the construction of the largest new-build stadium in Scotland in 100 years and is seen as a critical step in AFC’s bid to achieve UEFA top 100 status.